Christian Group Shows Us What *Really* Happened When Creationist Eric Hovind Debated an 11-Year-Old Boy

You all saw the video where Young Earth Creationist Eric Hovind tries to debate an 11-year-old boy and ends up embarrassing himself with his faulty logic?

Now, Grace Youth Ministries has put out their own version of that segment of the debate. They imply that it shows what *really* happened… but, since most of the video just replays Hovind’s senseless answer, it’s not much of a redemption:

Late in the video, Hovind asks the boy (debate opponent Bernie Dehler‘s son) if there’s any chance he might be wrong about his claim that there’s no proof of God’s existence. The boy says no, presumably to avoid what he thinks is a logical trap by Hovind.

The supposed “gotcha” moment comes when Hovind asks the boy’s dad the same question and the dad answers in a more nuanced way, that saying there’s no proof of God’s existence is the most reasonable claim we can make.

Hovind thinks that’s a victory for him, because anything but complete certainty implies “you’re not sure.”

This is how fundamentalists think. In their minds, atheists say with 100% certainty that God doesn’t exist, as if we have absolute knowledge. The truth is, atheism doesn’t make that claim; it only says that there’s no proof of God’s existence. There never has been. There likely never will be.

But as soon as we say that, they pretend like we’re backing away from a claim we never made in the first place. A lack of complete certainty, to them, means that God could exist and we’re just not looking hard enough. Which makes as much sense as taking the statement “I don’t believe unicorns exist” to mean “SO THERE MIGHT BE UNICORNS OUT THERE!”

(Thanks to @Truman_Smith for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Using knowledge of 2+2 as a reason why there must be a knowledge dispenser (God) is completely faulty logic.  2+2 is an example of pure reason that can be obtained with complete certainty without any need of relying on an outside expert. Most other things we know are based on pattern recognition.  If things happen before under certain situations, things are likely to happen again in similar situations.  We then form theories or explanations to describe the relationships and get an even better understanding.  Like why the sun comes up each morning…  Primitive man would pray and make sacrifices to a god so the sun would come up in the morning.  We now have other explanations.  Hovind is still retaining part of that primitive mind-set.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPVVPRJ7QKLPU6TF5B4IZTENTI No

      That was my reaction. 2+2=4 is clearly demonstrable; Hovind’s god-concept is not. Hovind thus either A) is trying to use a demonstrable case to raise his non-demonstrable one to the same level (or higher), or B) is trying the opposite – to reduce demonstrable things down to the conceptual level of humans-are-flawed-so-we-really-don’t-know-anything-and-thus-need-to-be-told.

      The kid did a great job firing back on Hovind’s claim that we can’t know anything, thus we couldn’t be certain the god telling us was good enough as well.

    • C Peterson

      My take here would be a little different. 2+2=4 is not a universal truth; it isn’t something that can be abstractly deduced using pure reason. Its “truth”, like all mathematical assertions, rests on a set of underlying assumptions- intrinsically unprovable axioms- that must be posited before engaging in the reasoning that concludes “2+2=4″. We can quite reasonably pick a different set of axioms and come to an equally reasoned, and quite different, conclusion.

      In this respect, theism has much in common with mathematics (as opposed to science, which works nothing like this).

      • amycas

         I was going to say something similar. 2+2=4 is only true under certain mathematical conditions. If we change the definition of any of the numbers or those symbols, then that statements could be rendered false. But, given that we know what our definition of 2, 4, + and = is, we can say we know, under these definition, that 2+2=4. No god needed.

        • http://www.facebook.com/the.deep.rock David Prock

           Say what? “If we change the definition of any of the numbers”…You may not change the “definition” of a number, you may only change the number. Changing the meaning of a symbol does not change the thing that symbol represents. 2+2 = 4 on Earth, Mars and Antares.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Evans/1017276335 John Evans

            But 1+1=10 in binary. And 9+2=B in hexidecimal.

          • C Peterson

            2+2 = 4 on Earth, Mars and Antares.

            Not really. Those are just symbols, and in using them, you need to define what they mean- what you call “the thing that symbol represents”. You seem to be implicitly defining the numbers as a count of specific things, but even by that definition, you can have axiomatic systems where 2+2 != 4.

      • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

        Actually, science implicitly presumes the axiomatic validity of mathematics, in order to obtain a language capable of talking about experiential reality. It also requires at least one additional axiom, to introduce the notion of “experience” into constrained mathematical language. (Potential for pattern recognition follows as a consequent.)

        The main difference is that inferences in science are made with probability between 0 and 1 (with greater than 0.95 the benchmark for publication), while  mathematics usually deals with proof inferences where p=1 … though there are exceptions, such as in Arthur-Merlin protocol proof systems in computational complexity theory.

        • C Peterson

          Mathematical axioms are, by definition, valid. There’s no assumption of validity required.

          Science itself does not require mathematics, although in practice it’s a useful and nearly essential tool (but not for all scientific disciplines). A scientist using mathematical tools doesn’t assume anything about the validity of axioms, but defines the mathematical system he is using, complete with its axioms.

          I can’t think of any scientific inferences that have probabilities associated with them because of any uncertainties about the fundamental validity of the mathematical tools utilized.

          • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

             The definition is the assumption.

            The scientist, by using mathematical tools to define a system, assumes that they are self-consistent enough to define a system — EG, the basic question of ZF self-consistency, per Gödel.

            As for the last point, those probabilities are omitted, because they’re outside the scope of science, and into the territory of philosophy of science.

  • Donaving

    “…anything but complete certainty implies “you’re not sure.”
    This is how fundamentalists think.”

    Wait, what? 

    • jonricht

      Wait, what?
      He’s right.  Fundamentalists often claim that a lack of absolute certainty about the truth of {X} means you don’t know {X} is true (re. presuppositional apologetics)

    • Atoswald

      Yeah, I was confused by the “fundamentalist think” comment too. I have no proof for this claim.

    • Baal

       The part B of the argument is that they know God 100% with total Truth and Fullness.  As such, having total certainty, they can be right about other lesser things and you can’t be ’cause you don’t know everything and have just admitted to it.  Ha ha, got you.  Neeener neener.

      I’m still impressed with this 6th grader.

  • Troels Jakobsen

    We can’t with certainty disprove the existence of God in general. We can, however, with certainty disprove specific ideas about God. There was no global Flood, no literal Garden of Eden with humans fully formed, no literal six day creation. Not only is there no evidence of these things happening, there’s very strong evidence against them.

    The specific God Hovind and his fellow creationists believe in has been proven false. And when they are obviously wrong about the specifics, why should I trust their religious claims in general?

  • karen

    Well done, Chad!  How clear-thinking and confident you are!

  • Bob Churchill

    The “watch til the end” moment we’re expected to think vindicates Hovind’s god-awful rhetoric consists of two things:

    1) a caption reading “6th grader is proved wrong” (which is just petty and awful, doesn’t really follow, and given the number of times you could have put up a caption reading “Middle-aged man is demonstrably illogical” is just pathetic)

    2) people laugh when  Hovid says “So you’re not sure” [of God's non-existence]. At first I thought, right on, well done those laughing, the epistemological fallibility we all share is hardly the strongest possible weapon to use against your opponent… But then the tone of the laugher doesn’t sound ridiculing, it starts to sound like it agrees with him, and then people clap, and suddenly the room sounds full of Hovind’s fans, which might explain why they’re not laughing at him earlier when he’s being tied up in knots. (I could be misreading it of course.) Why are these people laughing and clapping because a man in effect uses the non-argument “So, you’re not completely certain, therefore that means you’re completely wrong”? From the looks of it isn’t this filmed in a university or something? I despair.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    I remember how I felt in the early days of my atheism. I was bitter and hostile toward all religion. Categorically, I saw it as the enemy. But as I grew less emotional about it, and more rational, I realized that unflinching certainty is actually the biggest problem. And it certainly isn’t exclusive to religion.

    I wonder about those rules Hovind mentioned: God can’t lie, and God knows everything. I realize he probably presupposes their truth, but I don’t see any defense for it. Even if those were the first things God revealed to him, he’d have no way to verify them. His absolute certainty comes from himself, and not the strength of his arguments and evidence. But, yeah, we already knew that.

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

      Wait, their god can’t lie?  Then their god isn’t omnipotent, is he?  I’m pretty sure that a god who could do anything would be able to lie.  I don’t know where Hovind is getting that from.  (Wait, yes I do.  He’s making stuff up, just like all the other fundies out there.)

      • Rwlawoffice

        You misunderstand the theology of omnipotence. God can do all things that are consistent with his character. He does not do things that inconsistent with his character. Thus, since his character is one of truth and He cannot tell a lie, then even though he is omnipotent, he cannot tell a lie.

        • Troels Jakobsen

          It sounds suspiciously like God is subject to certain rules, and, dare I say it, logic. So apparently there are some principles which are external to God, something defining him. There is something bigger than God.

          • Rwlawoffice

             God is only subject to the rules of His unchanging character.  This is not evidence of something greater than himself, it is evidence of who He is. The fact describe this as logic, doesn’t make logic bigger than God. 

            • Troels Jakobsen

              A being uncapable of change is by definition not omnipotent. He is bound.

              • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

                Not to worry, RW will shift the goalposts a bit more. He’s in it for the win.

        • Troels Jakobsen

          It sounds suspiciously like God is subject to certain rules, and, dare I say it, logic. So apparently there are some principles which are external to God, something defining him. There is something bigger than God.

        • CultOfReason

          That God cannot lie, is no advantage to your argument, because it is no proof that priests can not, or that the Bible does not. [The Life and Works of Thomas Paine, Vol. 9 p. 134]

        • Bubba Tarandfeathered

          Who are you to claim that you know the character of …?

          • Coyotenose

             A false prophet. They go to Hell, as I recall.

        • jonricht

          You misunderstand the theology of omnipotence. God can do all things that are consistent with his character.
          The problem is that I, someone most assuredly not omnipotent, can easily do things that are inconsistent with my nature.  

          If I can do things God can not, God isn’t omnipotent.

          • Rwlawoffice

             That is because you do not have as another part of your character that you never change.  God has as part of His character, that He never changes. Thus, He will never do anything that is inconsistent with his character otherwise His character would be changing.

            • RobMcCune

              So he can change from infinite to finite, but can’t change his ability to tell the truth?

              • Rwlawoffice

                 And when do you contend this occurred?

                • Coyotenose

                   It occurred as soon as he wasn’t able to explain concepts to humans that would have saved indescribable suffering. So about page 2.

            • amycas

               Really? A being that has existed for all eternity that never changes? Sounds a bit rigid to me.

              • Rwlawoffice

                 Sounds comforting to me. 

                • Baal

                   So you’re into long term bondage situations.  Please understand that it’s not ok to impose that view on others w/o their consent.

            • jonricht

              That is because you do not have as another part of your character that you never change.
              With all due respect, Rwlaw, it’s specious to define omnipotence as something requiring limits.

              • Rwlawoffice

                 In relation to the Christian God and the claim of Christians that He is omnipotent, instead of using simply the definition of omnipotence that you would like, it is more appropriate to use not only the definition of those making the claim, but also understanding that  in regard to all of the characteristics of God, they must all work together.  One cannot nullify the other. Thus to properly define His omnipotence, you must include how this would work with his other characteristics,  such as his character for truth.

                • jonricht

                  While I sympathize with your belief that your religion is logically coherent, you’re effectively demanding that I let you redefine “omnipotence” to support that belief.

                  A certain amount of context requires that I give you a bit of leeway.  For  example, it’s plausible that an omnipotent being wouldn’t be able to do patently illogical things.  However, I reject the notion that it allows your God to be limited in ways which non-omnipotent beings (re. me) are not.

                  Rwalaw, you’re trying to use the word to imply “all-powerful”, but when faced with the problems of this idea, insisting that it means ” not all-powerful”.

            • Gus Snarp

              Seems to me that God changes dramatically from the Old Testament to the New. His character undergoes a radical transformation from wrathful and vengeful to loving and forgiving, from demanding sacrifice to offering it. You’d almost think that the New Testament wasn’t about the same god at all…

              • Glasofruix

                Yeah, but the old testament doesn’t count, apparently…

                • JohnnieCanuck

                  Why is it still there, I wonder. Why do all the bits that are so wrong not edited out? Shouldn’t each sect have its own version that they can declare the only correct one? I must be missing something.

        • nakedanthropologist

          Ah, but what is the true nature of the gods?  Even the many and various Christian religions debate this point among themselves.  Some say that Yahweh is vengeful, others paint him as a loving father.  And still some argue that Yahweh is part of a patheon (i.e. Mormonism) and has a separate nature from the other gods in said pantheon.  The point on omnipotence still stands, as their is no demonstrably true set of qualities that are applied to the nature of Yahweh/God (for Christians).  And even if Christians could come to a consensus among themselves about God’s nature, in order to make any claims regarding it, there would have to be evidence. 

          Realistically, I know that the argument I penned above is simplistic, and there are much better and more interested theologans than I.  However, Hovind makes no such argument, and his argument for creationism is demonstrably false.  And we’re not talking a little evidence here or a little evidence there (for the theory of evolution) - we’re talking mountains and mountains of evidence, experiments, easily observed phenomena, and the fruits of the aforementioned mountains of evidence (better medicine, genetics, and so on).

        • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

           The word omnipotent means unlimited in power.  If God is limited by his nature, then he is not omnipotent.

          • Rwlawoffice

             You should at least get the Biblical claim God’s omnipotence correct before you make a argument such as this.

            • Gus Snarp

              Where does the Bible actually claim omnipotence anyway? I don’t recall reading that. Some rather poetic things in the New Testament maybe, but as far as I know they don’t stand up as strong claims of omnipotence. Nor do I recall a real claim on omniscience or omnibenevolence. You’d think these things would be laid out early in the Old Testament. You’d also think that an omniscient and omnipotent being wouldn’t so frequently express his disappointment in how his signature creation turned out. And don’t give me free will. There’s no reason an omnipotent and omniscient being couldn’t make people with free will who were also basically moral enough not to screw up so badly he had to exterminate them all, and no reason he would create them knowing he would have to exterminate them all. Frankly, the actions of God in the Bible simply make far more sense as the actions of a sharply limited god characteristic of the mythology of primitive people.

              Or as a fictional creation of someone who realized that omnipotence makes for stories with too little drama and must always be curtailed. Read a few comic books and you’ll see that writers have a very hard time with omnipotence, they don’t know how to demonstrate it interestingly in many cases, and they always reign it in at some point to keep the drama going. Myths are the same way.

            • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

               Hello, Special Pleading.  How have you been?

            • Gus Snarp

              So what you’re saying is, God is not omnipotent, except that some Christians have redefined omnipotent, and we must use that definition.

              • Rwlawoffice

                 What i am saying that if you are arguing about the biblical God, you should use the biblical description and definition of His omnipotence as described in the Bible.

                • Coyotenose

                   The Bible doesn’t claim that God is omnipotent. Try again.

                  It’s telling which responses on this page you pretend don’t exist. They’re the ones you can’t escape with a foot stamp (like the post I’m replying to) or with word games. You’re a deceitful coward.

                • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

                  Rwlawoffice, I agree with you.  We should be using the definitions of Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient (as well as omnibenevolence) as used by Christians. 

                  Of course these definitions would necessarily need to change from usages outside of the Christian context since the following are obviously true according to Christian tradition.
                  1.  God can’t defeat Satan so He isn’t all powerful
                  2.  God needs for you to pray in church because He can’t see what you are doing in your own closet – thus not present everywhere.
                  3.  God needs for you to publically proclaim your faith because he can’t read your mind.  Thus he doesn’t know everything.
                  4.  God allows disease and microbes to kill millions so He could be a bit nicer.  Also the sending of souls to hell for eternity for not believing the right things is a bit harsh.

              • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

                 In Rwlaw’s world, omnipotence is like clam chowder.  It comes in all sorts of regional varieties that may or may not bear any resemblance to each other.

                You’re supposed to use the version of omnipotence that allows obvious contradictions to be hand-waved away.

        • C Peterson

          Lovely bit of mental masturbation, there. When something can’t be logically justified, make up some philosophically empty babble and pretend it’s deeply meaningful. That’s pretty much the nature of “scholarly” theology, and the product of the great empty thinkers like Aquinas, Augustine, and many others.

          • Rwlawoffice

             Actually, this is based upon the description of  God in the Bible, not just some answer to the question of an atheist.  I don’t expect you to believe it, I’m just pointing out that if you are going to start making up questions you think attacks God, at least get the theology right. Otherwise you are attacking your notion of God and not what those that believe in Him actually have as their theology.

            • C Peterson

              I don’t think your argument is found in the Bible. I don’t really buy into arguments based on omnipotence paradoxes, but my reasoning is based on semantics, not logic games. I don’t think the Bible even defines an omnipotent god. The original terms that are used (and translated as “omnipotent”) can be interpreted in many ways, and certainly don’t require the notion of infinite power or capability.

              Virtually all of the screwy logic like you use above is found in the twisted analyses of Aquinas and others who tried (and failed miserably) to shed some light on what is logically impossible if taken at face value.

              It is not possible in this case (or many others) to get the theology “right”, because it is internally inconsistent and logically flawed.

            • amycas

               Why do you believe the Bible describes god accurately? The Bible says god can’t lie? And you believe it? How do you know that whoever wrote that part of the Bible was telling the truth?

              • Rwlawoffice

                 Because I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. I believe it is true.  Not only from what it says but from confirmation of what it contains.

                 Yes the Bible describes God as a God of truth and thus He does not lie.  I believe that those that wrote the Bible wrote what was being revealed to them during the time that the scripture was being written. 

                • C Peterson

                  And yet, the Bible contains much that is irrefutably wrong. So how can you decide what is true?

                • Rwlawoffice

                  And what would you contend is irrefutably wrong?

                • C Peterson

                  The way that the Universe and the Earth were created. The way that humans, plants, and animals were created. The Great Flood story.

                  These are demonstrably false beyond reasonable doubt.

                • Rwlawoffice

                   I am not one that believes that science and the Bible are incompatible on these topics.

                • C Peterson

                  Then that means you don’t believe the Bible is “true” here, or else you’ve created your own personal interpretation of the words, in which case the very concept of some sort of absolute truth goes out the door.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Doesn’t mean that at all.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Evans/1017276335 John Evans

                  It says bats are birds, and insects have 4 legs.

                • Rwlawoffice

                   Other translations have “flying things” and not bats.  You would have to go to the original Hebrew and see if this is a proper translation.

                  As for insects, you would need to know what the Hebrew meant for legs at the time this was written before you could argue this was wrong.

                • Glasofruix

                   The original is not in hebrew, and you’re just making shit up as you go

                • Rwlawoffice

                  You don’t know what you are talking about.  The original text of Leviticus was Hebrew.  

                • Coyotenose

                   HE. LIES. IN. THE. BIBLE.

                  Jesus Christ you’re thick.

                • Coyotenose

                   “As for insects, you would need to know what the Hebrew meant for legs at
                  the time this was written before you could argue this was wrong.”

                  Courtier’s Reply. You’re either a terrible debater or a dishonest one, and we have tremendous evidence that you are a dishonest debater from all those word game defenses you like to pretend you didn’t post here.

                • Piet Puk

                   

                  Courtier’s Reply. You’re either a terrible debater or a dishonest one,
                  and we have tremendous evidence that you are a dishonest debater from
                  all those word game defenses you like to pretend you didn’t post here.

                  Dishonest.

            • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

              Why are you placing so much store on the theology on the Bible, which is demonstrably inconsistent?

        • Gus Snarp

          I think you misunderstand the character of God as shown in the Bible and are substituting your own wishful thinking of what God should be like, like most religious people.

          • Rwlawoffice

             Show me from the Bible where this is my wishful thinking and not a correct interpretation of the description of God in the Bible.

            • Gus Snarp

              Have you read the Bible? Start at page one. The obvious lies and deceit will pile up fairly soon. My personal favorite is the cruel deception he practices against Abraham. Imagine, making a father believe that you will command him and allow him to kill his own son and then stopping him at the last second. If that isn’t fundamental dishonesty and cruelty, I simply don’t know what is.

            • Gus Snarp

              Actually, show me where the in the Bible God says he can’t lie, or promises not to.

              • Rwlawoffice

                 Titus 1:2- In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world.

                This is the most direct verse.  Others talk about God being a God of truth

                Deut. 32:4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is.

                • Gus Snarp

                  That’s one. I accept it as a point in your favor. Of course, it assumes that the author of Titus isn’t just making things up because they sound good. But even that author doesn’t put it as a direct quote or show where or when God said this, which is interesting. I’d rather hear it in one of the sections that has God actually speaking to someone. Which is why I asked for “God said, or promises..”, which I still don’t think happens.

                  Not that it matters, since Titus does support your argument, even it if fails to answer my question in the affirmative, Deuteronomy flatly fails. IF all God’s ways are just and he does no wrong, then the definition of just and wrong are utterly incomprehensible. He who murders children to punish their parents is not just. If his just and right ways include such wanton slaughter, why should they not also include lying?

        • Coyotenose

           1. Everything came from God, including lying. He intentionally designed a universe in which lying is not only possible, but so easy that even very simple life forms routinely use deception.

          2. An omnipotent, omniscient being necessarily IS all things. You are the one who doesn’t grasp the term.

          3. The Bible contains several examples of God deceiving people. QED.

          That last one is also pretty pathetic for an omniscient, omnipotent being. He’d have to be TRYING to be a loser, pretty damn hard too, since anything he does by default gets the result he wants, as he is all things (see #2).

        • amycas

           How do you know what god’s character is? Did god tell you? Did somebody else tell you? How do you know that god was telling you truth? How did the person who told you know? It sounds like you’re making assertions about this god, and then using those assertions to prove other assertions you’ve made.

          • Rwlawoffice

            I base my understanding of God’s character on what is revealed about him in the Bible.  I don’t believe I or anyone else has had any private revelations not revealed in the Bible.  So, my understanding of this character is scripturely based 

            • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

              I think you base your understanding of God’s character (and a plethora of other mental vapours) on WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO INTERPRET in the Bible.

              Nothing was “revealed” to you like it’s some special secret only meant for those in a treehouse club. You theists read a disjointed, self-contradicting ancient text and pull out *precisely* what you want to support the values that you have, relying on “holy authority” to give credibility to a wide range of really weird beliefs and practices.

              • Rwlawoffice

                 Actually, I base my interpretation of the Bible on hermeneutics that doesn’t include any “revelations”.  By doing it this way, I minimize my own personal point of view and base the interpretation on  the scripture says and cannot base my interpretation on what I would like it to say.  

                • Glasofruix

                   Yeah right, so you “minimize” your own bias by using someone else’s point of view?

                  Am i the only one to think it’s stupid?

                • Rwlawoffice

                   Do you know what hermeneutics means?

                • Glasofruix

                   Wikipedia Hermeneutics is the art and science of text interpretation.

                  Sounds a lot like bullshit to me.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Maybe you should learn about it before you call it that. It’s not just for biblical interpretation. I took an entire course in it in seminary. Actually very sound.

                • Coyotenose

                  So you trained in Apologetics, the height of religious dishonesty. Color me shocked.

                  Gosh, I can’t IMAGINE why classes in Seminary would be designed to convince you that the Bible is true.

            • Brian Scott

              What has come to pass such that the revealed character of your god accurately predicts it?

              Additionally, what, which has not come to pass, disconfirms these revelations?

              • Rwlawoffice

                Would take much more room than we have here to talk about the prophecies fulfilled in the Bible. But there are plenty if books on showing how biblical prophecies were recorded he how they were fulfilled

                • Coyotenose

                   And every one of them amounts to the argument, “Isn’t it amazing how at the end of Book 7, only one of the two foes Harry Potter and Voldemory survived, just like the prophecy said in  Book 5?”

                  Except for all the ones that did not happen of course. Like the one where Jesus was supposed to come back for Revelations 2000 years ago.

      • Bubba Tarandfeathered

         I’d wager a bet that Rwlawoffice will never contemplate the notion that he has been lied to all along.

        See what “Rwlawoffice” will never get is that religion is a construct of thought control, he is too scared to embrace his unique individuality and thus he will never ever be free. He is borg.  

        • Gus Snarp

          What is that, some kind of summoning spell? You mentioned his name twice and lo, he appeared. I don’t know what kind of evil power this is, but please, don’t do it again!

          • Coyotenose

             Hey, his dumb is nothing to dread. Just amuse yourself by asking him why he thinks it’s not disgusting for him to talk about how wonderful it is to promote raising children as Christians in Uganda, whose loving Christians voted to imprison people for knowing gay people and not turning them in to be imprisoned.

      • Troels Jakobsen

        God can’t lie, we’re told, but apparently he has no problem sending lying spirits (1 Kings 22:23) or deluding people into believing a lie (2 Thess. 2:11). Don’t ask me how that is supposed to be different from lying.

        • Stev84

          God told Adam and Eve that they would die if the ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They didn’t. He lied right from the start.

          • Troels Jakobsen

            Well, to be fair, God didn’t have to mean they’d die at the moment they took a bite, rather he could’ve meant they would turn mortal and thus die one day.

            Then again, they never ate from the tree of life, so they were not immortal to begin with.

            • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

              I’m not a Hewbrew scholar, but my understanding is that “כי ביום” is translated “THAT day” rather than “SOME day”.

      • TheAlien

        someone can lie does not mean that He want to lie. Isn’t that question absurd?

        • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

          I think the assertion that “an omnipotent god can’t lie” is absurd.  If a god can do everything that includes lying.

          As to why he’d want to, it’s pretty clear from several readthroughs of the bible that biblegod is a sadistic jerk who enjoys tormenting lesser beings.  Lying is completely consistent with that.

          • RobMcCune

            Fucking self contradiction! How does it work?

            • Coyotenose

               Magnets, duh!

              *MEME COMPLETE INSERT NEW MEME*

      • Gus Snarp

        I know of no Biblical support for the claim that God cannot lie. It’s funny how these guys tell us the Bible is literally true in every word, then make up stuff that is totally at odds with everything the Bible tells us about God.

      • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

        On top of the assertion that an omnipotent god can’t lie, I think the
        notion that an omnipotent god needs a human sacrifice in order to
        forgive sin and let people into heaven is extremely absurd.  An
        omnipotent god wouldn’t need a murder to make up for the imperfection of
        man.  He could just forgive people.

    • Sindigo

      “I realized that unflinching certainty is actually the biggest problem. And it certainly isn’t exclusive to religion.”

      I have often heard this trope repeated; that there are atheists who are categorically, 100% certain that a god doesn’t exist. Yet, in 24 years as an atheist, through countless debates, both in person and online with various flavours of godless folk, I have yet to meet one who actually holds that position.

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

        I haven’t met any either. Maybe we should file them under cryptozoology.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPVVPRJ7QKLPU6TF5B4IZTENTI No

        Agreed. You might run into one that asserts that for all the well-known gods that have been asserted to exist, but I too have never encountered this straw man atheist that pretty much every apologist sets up in the first minute of their argument. The reason is likely because no two god concepts are the same, and can be anything from a wood carving to the mythical concept of a being that is omnipotent, omnipresent, etc.

        • Sindigo

          I think the reason is that most atheists have taken the time to think their positions through, rather than simply accepting what they’ve been told and therefore have come to the entirely rational conclusion that we don’t have all the answers yet.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPVVPRJ7QKLPU6TF5B4IZTENTI No

            Or simply blindly reacting to assertions of a god by rejecting them for the sake of doing so.

            • Baal

              Atheists are not secret theists who are just trolling.  We actually exist and we actually find acting as though god belief is valid is bizarre.  Do you worry about leprechauns?  No?  Me, neither.

              Your inability to imagine people who are not you doesn’t mean we don’t exist.

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPVVPRJ7QKLPU6TF5B4IZTENTI No

                Please read the above. Clearly I am not who you think I am.

      • Gus Snarp

        Have you guys seen this yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pL5vzIMAhs

        Neil Degrass Tyson talking about the purpose of the Universe. It’s kind of funny, because he sounds a bit to wishy washy in his opening statement, but by the end he basically makes the argument most atheists would make, that he can’t be certain, but it’s extremely unlikely.

        Of course, for some reason (possibly political) this reasoning leads him to call himself an agnostic elsewhere, but what can you do. There’s also the fact that the Templeton Foundation asked him the question, which is weird, but I expect they’re not happy with the answer. Totally worth watching past that first statement that sound all Templetonny to get to the argument and conclusion, which is quite good.

        • Sindigo

          I have seen that, yes. It’s definitely a well-made argument and one which sums up my position on such questions.

          I understand why NDT describes himself as an agnostic. I think some people just don’t want that discussion with people, especially in the States. My mother won’t watch a show with Dawkins on it because of his outspoken atheism. It doesn’t matter if what he’s presenting has nothing to do with religion. Last time he came on the television, she simply announced that he needed a “poke in the eye” and changed the channel. It is irrelevant to her that he’s an evolutionary biologist.

          • Gus Snarp

            There are a lot of reasons why he goes with agnostic, not all of them unreasonable. I certainly have my problems with it, but given his public position, it’s understandable. We live in a country where he will lose credibility with people and be attacked and marginalized if he comes out as an atheist. His job is public outreach of science, and he wants to be able to reach the broadest swath of the public without alienating too many and without being dishonest or misrepresenting science. I would say he does a good job of presenting the science, which is the most important thing for him.

            On the other hand, if people like him came out, it would do great things for the public perception of atheists.

            On the third hand, people can choose their own labels, to an extent, and shouldn’t have to identify as an atheist if they don’t want to, even if they basically are. We’re all basically agnostic, even if we’re also atheists.

            So it bothers me a bit, but not that much. Especially when he’s not afraid to lay out a case like this. He may call himself agnostic, but he also just said that it’s incredibly unlikely that there’s a god, if not in so many words. So he may not choose my label, but his beliefs are apparently almost identical to mine, and he says so.

            • Sindigo

              I would never pressure anyone to call themselves an atheist. I think there are plenty of reasons not to take the label and “outing” people doesn’t seem fair.

              To me though, it’s intellectually unsatisfying to call myself an agnostic. Assuming that there are two possible definitions (I’m happy to re-evaluate my stance if there are any I’m not aware of of course) of agnosticism:

              1) “I don’t know if a god exists.” – Well fine, I agree with you but that’s not the questions that atheism answers. I don’t know but I don’t believe.

              2) “I/we can’t know if a god exists.” – Yes, we can. God could prove it beyond all doubt if he wanted to. As we’ve been discussing elsewhere, there is a level of proof for everyone which it would be easy for him to achieve. He chooses not to for almost everybody, yet craves our supplication and punishes us with eternal torment when we remain unconvinced. That doesn’t make sense to me. The theists will tell us that we have free will to choose if we want to believe but with the next breath will tell about their “personal relationship with God/jesus” or that they “feel His presence/grace/whatever”. Where’s the free will in that?

              If your reason for agnosticism is 2) then you’re making an unfalsifiable proposition. At least, that’s what I take the term to mean. I’ve been wrong before though. ;)

              So, in summary of all this waffle. I take the label atheist because to not do so would feel intellectually dishonest to me. Were I trying to engage with a wider audience about science, maybe not.

      • C Peterson

        I’ve never met one, either. Certainly, many of us are certain enough that there are no gods that in many contexts we might make that positive assertion. It’s no different than saying something like “the Big Bang happened 13.7 billion years ago”. In a context where we are being critical, however, we’d still say that the existence of a god is possible, or that the Universe might have been created by some mechanism other than the Big Bang.

        It’s just the way people talk sometimes. It would certainly get cumbersome if we had to preface the mention of everything we believe with some statistical likelihood!

        • ReadsInTrees

          Thank goodness that we don’t have to preface every discussion with the things that we recognize MIGHT be true. “Hi, I’m Jamie, I’m an athiest. But, of course, I recognize that there might be a Loch Ness Monster, and Big Foot, and Jesus, and Zeus, and leprechauns, and pixies, and brownies, and there might be a possibility that this is all just the Matrix or the Harry Potter books might be based on reality and JK Rowling is actually Rita Skeeter hiding out in the Muggle word…..”

        • Sindigo

          True, but it’s surprising how the way we phrase things can be interpreted. There’s an trailer on UK TV at the moment for a show with Richard Dawkins where he says: “More and more of us are realising there is no god”. I thought my (religious) mother was going to put her foot through the TV when she saw it. I’ve not seen her so cross for years. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPVVPRJ7QKLPU6TF5B4IZTENTI No

      That is what I don’t understand about that claim of Hovind’s. His god can’t lie? How is this possible? If Satan was a fallen angel, and Satan was originally created by his god, how is Satan able to do all the negative things he does, if the god that created him is incapable of the same? That would seem to indicate that there is some sort of good-evil interaction active in the universe that neither his god nor Satan created, but that one or the other are capable of exercising. Which means that Hovind’s god is necessarily less great/powerful than whatever created those things, and also seems to have the effect of reducing his god down to a messenger of good actions (why, good day to you, Mr. Euthyphro) and Satan the messenger of bad ones.

      But all of that logic is to treat the simplest of empty assertions with a bit too much scholarly effort. Hovind has no basis for his claim, ergo his argument is meaningless.

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

        Fight your desire to make sense of it, or you’ll suffer great frustration.

        The best suggestion I can make to help with your questions is to listen to him present his position. He (and another presuppositional apologist, Sye Ten Bruggencate) was on the Magic Sandwich Show. It’s maddening, but if you want to see the gruesome inner workings…
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T06j5SApekk

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      The problem seems to be not quite precisely unflinching certainty; it’s unflinching certainty about the uncertain, particularly absolute certainty in an imperfectly reliable authority.

      You might find Altemeyer’s “The Authoritarians” interesting.

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

        Thanks for that suggestion.

  • Riccardo

    It really says a lot about the strength of the fundamentalist’s arguments if they feel threatened by a sixth grader.

    • kaydenpat

       Right, as if “beating” a 6th grader in a debate is something to be proud of.

      • C Peterson

        If you’re operating at the intellectual capacity of a third grader, it is!

    • SeekerLancer

      At least they’re finally competing on their own level.

  • Georgina

    The boy stated that he is “100% certain that there’s no proof of God’s existence.”

    The father hedged that. Why?
    If there was even the smallest possibility that there was any proof of their gods existence, surely someone would have found it by now?  

    • TychaBrahe

      The question of whether or not God exists is unimportant.

      Consider the question of whether or not there is life on other planets.  The Drake equation says there quite likely are, at least a few.  You can spend a lifetime gainfully employed as an academic astronomer and make it your life’s work.

      But should the rest of us plan our lives worrying over the existence of extraterrestrial life?  Should we invest money in a planetary defense system in case someday some creatures should show up with nefarious intentions?  Of course not.  

      Perhaps there is some deity that was intricately involved in the creation of the universe and humanity.  If so, the only thing we can know about this deity at this moment is that miracles are not happening currently, from which we can presume that whoever or whatever such a deity is, it doesn’t want to be bothered by us at the moment.  It wants us to go on living our lives without paying any attention to it.  As if it didn’t exist.

      I’m happy to oblige.

    • Sindigo

      You can’t be sure that someone hasn’t found proof of god’s existence. Many have claimed proof through personal revelation, maybe at least one of them was right.

      • Gus Snarp

        Personal revelation can never be proof. Hell, it’s not even evidence. Proof is something you can show to someone else, and no one can give anyone else their personal revelation.

        And that’s leaving out the pure fallibility of the human brain that means that you shouldn’t even trust your own personal revelation. It’s unverifiable, so it’s not proof.

        • Sindigo

          You’re absolutely right of course. Someone else’s personal revelation shouldn’t be enough to convince you of the existence of gods in and of itself. Unless it enables the receiver of such visions able to prove their divine origin in some way such as some sort of predictive power or the gaining of knowledge which is unknown to us at present.

          However, revelation of this nature could be proof of a god’s existence. How many visions would you have to have before you believed them? How many doctors would you have see and how many meds would you have to try before the persistent voice eventually convinced you that it was indeed the voice of the creator of the universe itself?

          Once you’d ruled out all the obvious, rational causes of mental aberration and you were still hearing angelic choirs then at that point you may consider this revelation to be proof enough. It is surely possible to envisage a level of personal revelation that would convince you.

          Of course, all this doesn’t mean we should necessarily take anyone who claims to have a hotline to god seriously.

          • Gus Snarp

            Those questions are pretty difficult to answer, in general I would say there is no point at which I would turn to the hypothesis that I was actually hearing directly from God unless I could get some kind of external corroboration.Even if I heard the voice of God in my head every day of my life from birth to death and no treatment or evaluation was able to eliminate the experience or find a cause, it would still be far more probable that I was experiencing some kind of hallucination with an unknown cause and treatment, than that I was hearing the actual voice of a real god.

            The difficulty comes in the assumption that I would otherwise still have the same mental faculties and ability to reason that I do now, except with the addition of this God voice. It is entirely possible that the voice would be so real to me, in spite of being a hallucination, that I would become convinced, or that it would be combined with other changes in my mental faculties that would lead me to be convinced. In this case, from my current perspective outside, I can easily conclude that it is more likely to be a hallucination, but if I were experiencing it, I cannot claim now that I would not be convinced. I might be, but I would be wrong. I am reminded of the movie “A Beautiful Mind” about John Nash, which did a brilliant job of demonstrating that his hallucinations were virtually indistinguishable from reality for him. Nevertheless, if the film is accurate, he was able to find ways to consciously evaluate his experiences and determine what was real and what was not. Most of us would never be able to do that successfully.

            • Sindigo

              I haven’t seen “A beautiful mind” and I know nothing of John Nash. I will try and check it out, it sounds interesting.

              Revelation of this nature is a paradox. An omnipotent and eternal being, which is usually pre-supposed when we’re discussing gods in our culture would, of course know exactly what it would take to convince you, as to him, he already has. But then, he’d know exactly what it would take to convince everyone and to him it would be the work of the merest whim. Which kinda makes you wonder why he doesn’t bother and instead decides to bestow the bounty of the knowledge of his existence and therefore eternal joy over perfect and endless torture to a select few desert-dwelling shepherds hundreds of years ago. Maybe he just doesn’t want us for a sunbeam. To paraphrase Tyler Durdan:

              “You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you.”

              I hope, should I ever start to the hear the voices it would take more than a flaming shrub to convince me. Scepticism, along with my own religious upbringing will hopefully inoculate me against such mistakes of reason.

              • Gus Snarp

                I hope I haven’t spoiled the film for you. It’s a pretty good one. John Nash, in case you haven’t looked him up, is a real person, a brilliant mathematician and pioneer of game theory who also suffers from mental illness. I think the movie does a good job of capturing some of what he went through.

                • Sindigo

                  Don’t worry, you haven’t spoiled it. I’d heard of him and now you’ve mentioned Game Theory the name rings a bell. I’ll check Netflix on the weekend. Thanks for the recommendation.

      • Coyotenose

         To add to what Gus Snarp said, everyone’s brain hallucinates. You and I have both hallucinated today, regardless of how mentally healthy we are. Every supposedly magical personal experience that could be documented and studied has been shown to be the result of such biological errors or similar events, like hormonal changes, foreign elements in the body, or optical illusions. We have absolutely zero evidence that anything more special than that has ever occurred, and thus no reason to spend serious effort on what-if games. This is something that is orders (plural) of magnitude less plausible than Mothman.

        • Sindigo

          You’re absolutely right of course. Someone else’s personal revelation shouldn’t be enough to convince you of the existence of gods in and of itself. Unless it enables the receiver of such visions able to prove their divine origin in some way such as some sort of predictive power or the gaining of knowledge which is unknown to us at present.
          However, revelation of this nature could be proof of a god’s existence. How many visions would you have to have before you believed them? How many doctors would you have see and how many meds would you have to try before the persistent voice eventually convinced you that it was indeed the voice of the creator of the universe itself?
          Once you’d ruled out all the obvious, rational causes of mental aberration and you were still hearing angelic choirs then at that point you may consider this revelation to be proof enough. It is surely possible to envisage a level of personal revelation that would convince you.
          Of course, all this doesn’t mean we should necessarily take anyone who claims to have a hotline to god seriously.

    • Gus Snarp

      I don’t think it even matters if there could be proof of God, that’s not the question. There is, right now, no proof of God, so the boy’s answer was fundamentally correct.

    • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

       I don’t think it’s possible to be 100% certain there’s no proof, but the reason for that is what makes the question of god’s existence meaningless.

      “God” is a word that lacks a cognitively meaningful definition.  There’s no universally accepted list of god’s descriptive properties; nobody can use god to make testable predictions.  God is an unfalsifiable pseudo-hypothesis, the intellectual equivalent of looking at a long equation, writing an “X” after the equal sign, and then patting yourself on the back for being a math genius. 

      The claim of god’s existence even comes with motorized goal posts, making them a snap to move, just in case you ever make the mistake of putting forth a testable claim.

      • amycas

         I had a conversation with someone two days ago about this exact problem with the god “hypothesis.”

  • http://tokyoboyxxx.tumblr.com TOKYO boy

    Can’t believe the Christian guy just advocated belief for basically all and every other god that humans have ever thought up.  How do I know Brahma isn’t real now? Zeus? Ra? Guess I’m going to have to join every religion on earth.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

      They always ignore this implication

    • nakedanthropologist

      I’d go with Ra and the Egyptian pantheon – you can’t beat the story of Sekhmet (Eye of Ra) being defeated by beer laced with ochre, or Ma’at weighing the heart of the deceased.  It always seemed to be much more eloquent than Christian mythology, IMO.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Evans/1017276335 John Evans

        I’m rather fond of Uzume solving problems by showing her breasts to people.

  • jose

    There’s a difference between saying there isn’t any chance that you might be wrong about:
    - The existence of God, and
    - The existence of proof for God.

    The kid said “no” to the second and he’s right, there isn’t any proof for God.

    • Gus Snarp

      That was my first thought from his response. We know definitively that there is no proof of God, whatever the state of god’s existence.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

    But I LIKE unicorns! Bad atheist!

    • Artor

      How could you like something that doesn’t exist? If you like them, then unicorns MUST be real, amirite?

      • LenKoz

        But, Artor, unicorns do exist.  We just call them by their other name:  rhinoceros.

        • ReadsInTrees

          Or narwhals.

          • Coyotenose

             Or Magic Ponies.

            *bronyfist*

  • http://twitter.com/Ro542124 Gideon

    Hmm. The logic reminds me of a scene from a thought-provoking movie I once saw called Dumb and Dumber…

    “What are the chances of a guy like you and a girl like me… ending up together?”

    “Well, that’s pretty difficult to say.”

    “Hit me with it! I’ve come a long way to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?”

    “Not good.”

    “You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?”
    “I’d say more like one out of a million.”

    “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

    • Bdole

      Holy crap, are we on the same wavelength. I just posted nearly the same thing!

      • Gringa

        and i just posted the lnk to the youtube video :)

    • Ibis3

       Blech. I made the mistake of really saying something similar to a guy that was in love with me. He ended up making my life miserable and threatening me with rape basically because I never changed my mind. Looking back, I ought to have said “No. Never. Not even if we were to live till the heat death of the universe.” Then he wouldn’t have decided to just try harder.

  • Paul

    My pink unicorn is doing just fine with or without your belief in it.

    Checkmate, atheists!

    • Coyotenose

      Your pink unicorn isn’t the REAL pink unicorn, because it isn’t invisible like mine!

      …yours just can’t be seen. Totally different.

      • Drakk

        Well maybe the light refracts around yours, and maybe for the other guye it just passes right through without interacting.

        Teach the controversy!

  • TheAlien

    Man is ignorant so how much does he know? Man’s vision is within a limited light spectrum so does he see everything there is to see? So when someone see something we do not see we think they are dillusional? Man know so little and always claim to know so much. If there are aliens smart enough to see us they must be sniggering. If there are gods to look at us, I wonder whether they are howling with laughter or feeling pity at such pompousness. Man are deluded and may be just an illusion for all I know. Ignoramuses often think that others do not know what they themselves do not know.

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

      “….we think they are dillusional” 
      Is this like homeopathic religion?

      • Coyotenose

         Ooohh, I LIKE that idea! Let’s wash it out until you can’t detect it anymore. That should make it super effective!

      • Sindigo

        Ha ha! Nice. I’m stealing that. 

        I respectfully suggest changing the spelling dilutional though.

    • Troels Jakobsen

      Man is delusional and easily mistaken, claiming to know so much. What, you mean like the thousands upon thousands of religions we’ve come up with? You’re making a pretty lousy argument for believing in God or gods.

    • Patterrssonn

      Thanks Zzzzz…. for that rambling incoherent bit of nonsense. Nothing like a bit of adolescent pseudo-profundity to liven up a thread.

    • Bdole

      “Ignoramuses often think that others do not know what they themselves do not know.”

      I know, right?

      Good thing there are atheists to point out these ignoramuses’ baseless assertions.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPVVPRJ7QKLPU6TF5B4IZTENTI No

    The things I get from a lot of Christian apologists of Hovind’s type is this: The mere act of being certain, talking a mile a minute, swinging your hips around, appearing to have an answer for every objection, and using hand gestures – in other words, acting like a Southern Baptist minister – is enough for the claims being made to be asserted and believed as true. I have very little respect for William Lane Craig’s apologetics, but he’s a veritable wunderkind compared to Hovind’s brand of whiz-bang street scam sophistry.

    Seriously. Watch Hovind’s delivery. Aside from his casual business attire here, he’s just like all the other young, new agey, hip Christian preachers/apologists and that dress in torn jeans and flashy print shirts with crosses, listen to rockin’ Christian metal and hip hop, and have a pocket squeaky clean stand-up comedy routine for the next church setting they walk into. It’s the stuff of pure salesmen; it’s an act whether Hovind realizes it is or not. Appear certain, try at absolute pains to appear genuine in wanting to “help” someone, and then offer up a line of BS that takes half a second to see through. His examples in trying to trap the kid in tangled logic are like the sales guy at a car dealership that has to go “talk to their manager” every time the buyer changes a line item just the slightest bit; then he comes back and changes up the BS to try and cover the fact that they’re not going to give you what you asked for, but actually take even more money.

    I will say, I have seen very little of Hovind the son spreading apologetics BS, but of what I’ve seen of him, his style is again very much the young new agey hip Christian type compared to his father’s much more conspiratorial tone that basically takes the tack that everything you know is evil programming that must be undone, therefore let me reprogram you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

    I think there’s another issue at play.  I think Hovind and many others with his views consider certainty to be evidence; a person who is very certain of his position, they would argue, is more likely to be correct than someone who feels doubt or questions his own position in some way.

    When they demand to know whether atheists are “100% certain,” they are not only trying to catch an atheist claiming 100% certainty so that they can find an opening to attack that.  They believe that they are scoring some kind of points even when the atheist admits that there is some tiny amount of doubt; they expect onlookers to evaluate the two views at least in part by trying to decide who is more certain, and they believe that their total conviction and lack of any doubt is a point in their favor.

    Some atheists may think the same way, but the typical “militant atheist,” willing to speak out in public on the issue, is likely to think that expressing her doubts and submitting her views to questioning should not only help her refine those views but also appeal to those same onlookers, because in their shoes, she would be suspicious of anyone who claimed 100% total conviction on any controversial issue.

    In the sense of what the onlookers are thinking of each approach, they’re probably both right.  And this is probably not new to anyone else, but it just struck me suddenly that if I want to put myself in these peoples’ shoes, I have to consider that claiming to be 100% certain doesn’t affect them the way that it does me.  That would sound so weak to me, but to them, it’s my insistence on questioning everything that shows the weakness of my worldview.

    Maybe the real question is why I argue with people who think that argument, evidence, and questioning are so pointless.  As always, I guess I come back to the old adage that it’s not about convincing the true believer across the table, but the audience.

    • Gus Snarp

      Yeah, the only hope is to convince the fence sitters, the committed are unlikely to change their minds. Of course, some of them might not be as committed as they appear, and you can plant a seed that will bear fruit when life provides it with enough fertilizer, and religion is chock full of fertilizer all on its own…

      Wait, that’s not where I was trying to go. To me public debates are pretty pointless. I occasionally enjoy them, but I don’t think they’re very effective at convincing anyone, even the audience. First and foremost because debates are designed to resolve matters of opinion, matters of fact are, by definition, not up for debate.

      So with all that taken together, what I’ve learned when arguing with Christians, especially YECs, is to try to get them to admit early that logic, reason, and evidence simply don’t matter to them and then leave it at that. It was a debate between Matt Dilahunty and Ray Comfort that convinced me of this, Matt just demolished Ray on every point, he couldn’t even run a Gish Gallop because Matt just had the perfect response to every answer, but in the end Ray just says that all the matters is personal revelation and anyone who comes to God because of evidence or argument isn’t a True Christian because they haven’t had a personal revelation. So why is he there arguing? I like getting to this point, because it’s the crux. Hovind is close to it in that video clip, because he keeps saying revelation, but you have to get to the point where he acknowledges that the words of people, or written in the Bible, aren’t the real revelation, it’s something personal. Then you just say that simply doesn’t qualify as evidence, I can’t have an argument where that is the basic premise because it is flawed at the core. Members of many different religions think they’ve had a gnostic experience of some kind, and the books they’ve been reading and preachers they’ve been listening to will determine whether that’s an experience of Christ, Allah, or Krishna. They can’t all be right, so it’s far more likely that the experience is simply a product of the electro-chemistry of the human brain. If it’s not simply a commonly stated lie.

  • Zzzzz….

    A debate between the inarticulate with someone even less articulate.

    • Coyotenose

       Got a serious case of anti-intellectual Dunning-Kruger going on there, judging from your list of posts to this blog. Pro Tip: Your not being able to follow the debates doesn’t make you the knowledgeable one, only kind of angry about not being able to follow the debates.

  • Jwp3d

    Unless Hovind is all knowing his point is not made because Hovind still has to interpret revelation from god.   Which Revelation? The Koran? The Bible? Hovind has to use his NOT all knowing reason to figure all this out.  Who’s interpretation should we follow? Hugh Ross , Ken Hamm or those at Biologos foundation?  

  • nakedanthropologist

    This is so typical of creationists and their ridiculous fans.  A 6th grader shows more logic and intellectual honesty than they do – and they’re supposed to be the *adult*.  But do they leave it at that?  Of course not – let’s demean people for not claiming absolute certainty or, as they like to say “divine” knowledge.  I already knew that Hovind was a lying sack of triceratops dung, but now I can add filthy ass-rag to his ever-evolving list of  foul monikers.

  • Gus Snarp

    I’m always stunned that they think this is actually sound reasoning. Good job for a sixth grader. I would have turned it around when he says, “if I knew everything and couldn’t lie and told you….” would be, that’s a rather outrageous hypothetical situation, in reality the question would be, how could I possibly know that you know everything and can’t possibly lie? The same is true of God (though I know of know restriction that would keep him from lying). How do I possibly know that there’s a God who knows everything? These books are not proof, they are all collections of stories, whether it be the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, or the Eddas, that take the same basic forms and show every sign of being the work of men, without divine inspiration, and subject to mistakes and outright falsehoods. We cannot know the truth of them. This revelation you speak of would have to be direct for me to believe it, and even then I would have to verify that it was not simply a hallucination somehow. And if that happened, it would be only my revelation, it could never be evidence because it could never be verified.

    As for the scientific worldview, we don’t have to know everything to know anything, we observe that when we put two apples on the table, and then two more, there are now four. The words “two” and “four” themselves are defined by us and agreed to to represent the numbers of apples that we see, but the real numbers, the counting of the apples, is perhaps the most unchanging thing in all the universe. The only way that we can be wrong about that, or most of science, is for this all to be a simulation or an illusion. But that simply doesn’t matter. What’s real to us and can be shown to work is what’s real. If this is an illusion then it’s so perfectly constructed that we cannot find holes in it, and until we do, we have no choice but to live as if it is reality until our constant probing of the universe reveals a hole. Until then, this is our reality, and we know it very, very well. All the YEC has is the illusion of certainty, but he has no more evidence than we do that we’re not living in a simulation.

  • C Peterson

    What these guys don’t get (indeed, what the majority of people don’t get) is that we can’t and don’t base our beliefs on “proof”. Proof is something that rarely if ever exists in the real world. Rational beliefs are based on evidence. Even irrational beliefs are based on a sort of evidence, much of it simply happens to be wrong or misinterpreted. But the human brain builds its belief system by weighing evidence- good or bad. We all believe the Sun will rise tomorrow, because we have a lifetime of observational evidence to support that belief. Nobody can prove that the Sun will rise, however.

    I would hope that most atheists would not claim their lack of belief stems from a lack of proof for any gods, but rather, that it stems from the overwhelming lack of evidence that any exist, and the overwhelming positive evidence that none are required. “Proof” shouldn’t be entering the discussion at all.

    • ReadsInTrees

      I’ve tried explaining to religious folks that “proof” is more of a mathematical term, which is why mathematically based sciences like physics get to have scientific laws, while other branches of science generally hold scientific theories as the top level of knowledge. Proving something outside of a mathematical realm is tough.

    • TiltedHorizon

      I’ve always considered ‘proof’ to be the sum conclusion of having sufficient “evidence”. So to say, “lack of belief” stems from “lack of proof” is acceptable to me. I read this statement as shorthand for “all evidence presented so far been insufficient, inconclusive, and too subjective to be qualified as proof; therefore there is no proof.”

      • C Peterson

        The problem with this is that we all believe things that lack proof, so it’s hard to figure why we would choose to not believe something for the same reason.

        A good many of our societal woes stem from the wide misunderstanding of what “proof” means. I think we would do well to avoid extending that confusion by misusing the term ourselves.

        • TiltedHorizon

           Hard to argue with a well made argument. :) I’ll avoid using the word ‘proof’.

        • Nox

           Yeah, absolute proof is the exclusive domain of mathematics. But there is such a thing as provisional certainty. Some things which can not be fully proved are so likely as to be justifiably treated as true. Some things which can not be fully disproved are so unlikely as to not warrant any significant place in our calculations.

          You cannot disprove god as an entity. You can basically disprove god as a concept.

           We do not need to map every inch of space and verify that no being exists anywhere who could be called a god, before we can reasonably determine that god is an unreasonable concept. We can observe that god is an incoherent concept, a side effect of human ignorance, and an insufficient explanation for the Universe. If you have the time to read apologetics you can observe that every argument ever made for god’s existence is a non sequitor.

          That is as much proof as there will be or needs to be.

          • C Peterson

            I personally cannot conclude, even with reasonable certainty, that there is no creator of our universe. That the god described by the Bible doesn’t exist is a virtual certainty in my view. Likewise for any other pretty obviously man-made gods. That no creator is interfering or involving itself with us seems very certain. But that is very different from disproving deities as a concept.

            Again, it seems best to me to speak of evidence, and the weight of that evidence in either supporting or deprecating religious or theistic propositions. Using “proof” is just opening ourselves up to attack- very likely justified.

          • Guesty Guest

            Quite so.

            Some people, though, in the absence of accessible certainty, cannot but run screaming from any declamation, reasoning that if they can’t be mathematically sure, there is no surety with which they can be comfortable.

            • C Peterson

              This is only common in one direction, though- those who, in the absence of surety that something is false, claim it as true in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

              • Guesty Guest

                Well, that’s true. It is a pretty rare error to eschew even the ability to call what is wrong wrong due only to the lack of absolute incontrovertible surety; you’re the only person that I’ve run into in a while who seems bent on making it.

                • C Peterson

                  You are the one here who seems to be operating on a belief system that demands strongly held views without any evidence to support them…

                • Guesty Guest

                  Say, rather, that you are overly restrictive in what you are willing to call evidence, such that you secure for yourself the perverse private luxury of claiming there is no evidence for a proposition when in fact there are mountains of such.

                • C Peterson

                  My impression is that your beliefs are essentially religious. Your response to a rational discussion about the theory of morality- anger, hostility, name-calling, not to mention the inability to move on to other subjects- is precisely the response seen in those who are religiously attached to their beliefs.

                  You should think about your responses, and whether they really make sense in an environment that encourages rational and civil discourse about subjects like that.

  • Gus Snarp

    OK, I wasn’t going to watch it because I had watched the original and know that Hovind doesn’t have anything that he hadn’t already showed us. But really, the argument is that the boy is proved wrong because his father doesn’t agree with him on one point? The father who doesn’t agree with Hovind either? That’s pathetic. And it’s not even the same question, so we don’t actually know if he agrees. The boy says he’s certain that we don’t have any proof of God, the dad says he’s not certain whether God exists. Different question, different answers, not proof even of disagreement, let alone which one is right.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    Eric Hovind presents… Are You Threatened By a Sixth Grader?

  • viaten

    It’s seem like a Pascal’s Wager type argument that Eric uses.  If you not 100% sure there’s no God then you better assume the “worst” kind of God considering how powerful God would have to be if he was real.

  • viaten

    How is God subject to a “not allowed to lie” rule?  Who is doing the “not allowing”?  Why would he simply say “We know God doesn’t ever lie (because he said so)”?  Or “We know God wouldn’t ever lie if he is to be real and worthy of being a God”?

    • walkamungus

      We’re all in a big D&D game, right? 

      • Gus Snarp

        I think the real reason D&D is considered evil and satanic by some Christians is that it encourages thinking of gods as myths and fictional characters, which leads one not only to be open to that notion in general, but to seeing the similar characteristics of the writing in the Bible, wherein God is obviously playing by some higher set of rules and is constrained.

        • Coyotenose

           The original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game had magic circles drawn out for summoning demons, lists of demons and devils based on actual mythology, including Hebrew names, descriptions on how the summoning spells for them worked and on providing appropriate sacrifices, and probably other stuff I’m forgetting. Gygax and company just weren’t very good at getting across that this was primarily flavor information on the villains that the players were going to battle.

          Oh, and there were actually a lot of boobs in the art. And even some blurry sylph vajayjay. The D&D haters could not have been happy with that, but as a ten year old, I knew I’d stumbled upon the greatest game EVER.

      • viaten

        Could be.  And Satan is secretly the dungeon master.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bone-Pick/100000014578924 Bone Pick

    Believes based on written words. Nonsense fables. Any claims in the books (any) which can not be disproven do not make them real. I am reading the Lords of the Rings…is there a chance hobbits are real because I can not disprove them? Clifford the Big Red Dog…books based on an imaginary character. Can we disprove Clifford? And because we can NOT is there a chance he is real? Comic books about Smurfs…can we disprove them? If you REALLY want to go this path you HAVE to believe ALL those things books have EVER been written about COULD be real. Talking Horses, Invisible Rabbits, Ducks laying Golden Eggs, Thumb-sized people, beings on Moon, Mars, Aliens, underwater monsters, Captain Kirk, Spock, Ernie and Bert and on and on. So, you want to say just because you can NOT disprove their existence they could all be real? In real life? You must recognize the insanity in this. This imagined character people call ‘god’ is no exeption. Do you REALLY need to disprove the existence of all imagined characters before you use common sense and climb out of these delusions?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bone-Pick/100000014578924 Bone Pick

    Another thought along the same idea:
    Proof of Infity - 10 devided by 3 = infinity
    Infinity exists, the universe has always been here, no creator, done.
    Now, disprove infinity.
    It’s that.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    “Anyway, I have to argue about flying saucers on the beach with people, you know. And I was interested in this: they keep arguing that it is possible. And that’s true. It is possible. They do not appreciate that the problem is not to demonstrate whether it’s possible or not but whether it’s going on or not.” – Richard Feynman

  • ORAXX

    Nothing is any more futile or useless than debating a creationist.  When confronted with the evidence they demand, they will simply invent a super natural argument out of thin air to make inconvient facts go away.  They cling to the delusion that if Darwin can be discredited, they win by default without ever having put forward an iota of evidence to support their own position.

  • Bdole

    ” A lack of complete certainty, to them, means that God could exist and we’re just not looking hard enough.”
    Well that’s just Dumb and Dumber.

    “What are the odds that a girl like me and a guy like you could get together

    “well…”

    “Come on Mary, I came a long way, the least you could do is level with me.”

    “Not good”

    “Like  1 in a hundred?”

    “More like one in a million”

    .
    .
    .
    “So you’re saying there’s a chance!”

  • Michaelbrice

    The headline is 

    “6th. Grader proved wrong” with christian capitalization grammar protocols in order to make it ‘factual’.

    Hilarious, do they not see the silliness within that caption?

    Now that they have conquered the 6th Grade I guess Grade 7 is next, at that rate they won’t ‘prove me wrong’ for another 50 years or so!

    • Coyotenose

       I think you’re safe a bit longer than that, since even by their own claims, it took over 150 years to reach the sixth grade.

  • Sven2547

    It really boils down to the widespread misunderstanding of what is means to be agnostic and/or atheist.  Agnostic and atheist are not mutually exclusive ideas.  People constantly get this wrong.

    Gnosticism versus agnosticism is a question of what you KNOW.
    Theism versus atheism is a question of what you THINK.

    The 6th-grader dismisses the existence of gods, based on the staggering lack of evidence.  Hovind is callously and dishonestly claiming that all atheism is gnostic atheism.  In reality, the wise skeptic is an agnostic atheist: someone who draws conclusions from evidence, without prejudice.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Is that really what the level they’ve sunk to, crowing over “winning” a debate with an 6th grader?

  • Robster

    Seeing an 11 year old walk oll over a creationist isn’t really that surprising.

  • Bdole

    An entire organization of adults produced a follow-up video to the intellectual smackdown they received from a tween in order to somehow redeem themselves? Don’t they know how much MORE pathetic they look by doing this?

  • dantresomi

    My thing is the sixth grader asked for “proof” and Hovind went into something completely different. So he didn’t even attempt to answer the question…

  • Bernie Dehler

    Here’s another clip from the debate you might enjoy.  Hovind thinks that brain chemistry is akin to a fizzy soft drink

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnIJlG0p3q4

    • Gus Snarp

      It’s one of those arguments that’s so bad that it’s hard to argue against, because it just sounds self evident to me that the chemical reactions in the brain do produce the ability to evaluate claims.

      A couple of things that do come to mind:
      1. Chemical reactions cannot be true or false, but they can store information about truth and fiction. Essentially that’s what a computer disk does, we just have to add electricity, which the brain does as well.
      2. Is there a chemical reaction you can use to determine if something is true or false? Damn right there is, it’s called a litmus test. If the question is “Is this substance acidic?”, then we just assign a truth value to red paper and stick in the litmus paper. Then the chemical reaction answers the question.

      If we can do that with the simplest of chemical and electrochemical reactions, how hard could it be for the brain to evaluate truth claims?

  • Gringa
  • Ben

    Question? If Atheists are right and there is no God. 1. The earth is traveling at 67,108 mph , with no body at the wheel. That’s scary! 2. Life expectancy is around 71/78 years ( the law of death is sure one) why waste half your life studying, if you can’t pass on the knowledge genetically? Seems a waste. Both Atheists and Christians have faith and believe in something we both can’t prove physically. I’m going to say the B word….the bible says.Now, Faith is the substance of things hoped for , and the evidence of things not seen. Just food for thought……

  • Jona

    The little kid made assumption about reality without any absolute proof. He is assuming that the things he is seeing is absolutely true. He said 1+1=2, but how does he know that? These truth however are not revealed to him by his senses it Is revealed to him by reasoning in his own mind but that is the problem about empiricism. He is already assuming the world outside his mind is real? How does he know that based on his theory of knowledge? … He said he knows Eric Hovind exists. How? Because he sees him? Again, if he believes Eric exists because he sees him, then the little kid assumes his epistemology and is arguing in circles.


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